There are a number of visa pathways open to foreign nationals to allow them to live and work in Australia, many employers are not aware of these and the following is a quick explanation of those most commonly used at the present time.
The Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)
This visa is available to certain nationalities that have a similar arrangement with Australia. The visa permits young people between 18 and 31 years to live and work in Australia for periods between 12 to 24 months. These people are permitted to work for a maximum of 6 months for any one single employer during their stay, and must be paid in accordance with the industry award/standards. Their visa is independent of any employer sponsorship. These visa holders are usually most welcome by employers in hospitality industry, as they tend to move around the country seeking employment to sustain their travels.
A WORKING HOLIDAY VISA CAN BE CHANGED TO A 457 VISA WHILE THE HOLDER IS IN AUSTRALIA
The Long Stay Business Visa (Subclass 457)
This visa is one where an employer can sponsor an overseas resident for periods from 3 months to 4 years. The occupations, which can be sponsored, are set out in a gazetted list and the employer must demonstrate that they have the capacity to pay the required salary, which is the "market rate" but in all cases a minimum of AUD$49,330.00 p.a. The employer must valso be able to demonstrate a commitment towards the training of Australians
The employer must also show that they have a training program in place for existing staff in order to ensure that reliance on overseas persons for their business operations will not be an ongoing requirement. An employer must be prepared to provide company financials and detail when making an application. An employee sponsored under this category must only work for the sponsoring company as their visa is tied to the sponsorship. If the contract of employment is broken the visa is no longer valid and the employee must be eligible for another visa, or find another sponsor or they will need to depart Australia.
The Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 121/856)
Employers in metropolitan Australia can sponsor overseas skilled people on a permanent visa under this category. The occupations for this visa are also set out in a gazetted list and the position available must be a full time position and available for two years.
The employee must be highly skilled, and have their skills assed by the relevant Australian body. The alternative to an assessment is that they must be paid a salary of AUD$250,000 per annum, or remain on a temporary 457 visa for two years before the permanent application is made.
Application can be made in Australia if the employee holds a qualifying visa, such as a subclass 457, processing for this visa is done in Australia, and can take up to 12 weeks.
The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 119 & 857)
This visa has been designed for employers in Regional Australia to employ overseas skills; it is a permanent visa with the position needing to be available for two years. There are a far greater number of occupations available for the employer under this category to assist regional employers. The added step in the visa process is that the employer will need the Regional Certifying Body, as set out in a gazette notice, to certify the vacancy as a genuine one, and that every effort has been made to find a local employee to fill the position in the first place.
There is also some discretion in respect to the salary levels that must be paid in this category.
For more detailed information in respect to all these visa categories please visit http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/visa-options.htm